We lived a dream, now what?

One Year Post Blog Post

Well folks we’ve been home in the land of the free and the home of the brave for 365 days – that’s one full year, an orbit around the sun – from our 14 country Welsh’s World Tour (WWT), and all we can say is wow, what a difference a year can make. During our travels, time passed and was utilized so very differently than our now normal day-to-day. We feel like we lived 10 years of life in one month while traveling. Let me explain. Yesterday, I woke up (naturally), showered, ate, rode the bus full of “iPhone zombies”, worked from 8-6 not leaving my computer but for a trip to the bathroom or eat, came home, had dinner, talked with the wife, played with the dogs and read – a great day. Similar to most weekdays with maybe kickball and a night out thrown in there. Now let’s compare this to a day on the Welsh’s World Tour. Wake up as early as possible, maybe shower if there was time (usually wasn’t – too much to see and do), eat something, and then go, simply go! We would wander, talk to locals, take in as much history and culture from the influences we were fortunate enough to run into or fit into our itinerary (God bless my amazing wife and her planning abilities), whether that was a park, museum, old building, street performer, a kindred spirit we’d strike up a conversation with, a barista, anything! Every day was an unknown, an entirely new experience, and it was spent fully engaged and enthralled in the beauty of the world, and the lovely people that try and keep it that way. My message is not that one life is better than the other, it is simply that by living our dream, it has completely changed the way we want to live our 25,000 days we have left, if we’re lucky (Megan and I are going “Notebook” style, so the days remaining are the same). Over the past year the lessons and realizations from our journey have turned our thinking about life upside down and inside out, realizations we are so very grateful to have had, and happy to share.

  • Break the routine and try something new. Live outside your box. – A championship sports team doesn’t run the same play over and over again, do they? No! Neither should you. Our travels felt like a 10 year experience because we were constantly outside of our comfort zones doing new things every day.  Sure the time went fast, but it also felt like we were gone for years because of the constant change and many memorable moments.  I’ve been working almost seven months, going through a similar routine that blends the days together making it all seem like one long work day, which I hate (largely the result of my job). I want some exciting and memorable moments. Break the routine and experience the variety of amazing things out in the world, it will blow your mind. Take risks and try new things. It can be something as simple as walking home a different way, or trying a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Live and experience as much as possible while you can, you might even stumble upon something scary and new that makes your heart beat faster, hold onto that.
  • The world is filled with beautiful people, go meet them – This was one of the best parts about traveling. Our parents were worried sick about us losing a kidney to the black market or getting mugged. Sure, anything can happen, but you can also die falling out of bed, but you don’t sleep in a crib anymore do you? You risk taker! Safety is important, especially when you’re traveling to new places you don’t know very well. Always do your research. Our experiences were all enriching, finding the common man or woman far more willing to help than to harm. In China a guy bought our airline tickets with money he didn’t have because our credit cards wouldn’t work (we got him cash ASAP), our hostel owner in Nepal was on two phones calling travel agents to get us home during a family emergency, sitting with us at the travel agency until we had tickets in our hands, then driving us to the airport. The list goes on. The real emotions start when we think about the many kindred spirits we met and will likely never see again. Some we built wonderful relationships with over a few days, some over months. They didn’t want to talk about Game of Thrones, work or how a friend totally flaked on them last week. Instead, we invested in getting to know each other, our past, what we’ll do when we get home, our common interests of travel, adventure, cultures and discussing the various differences between them all.  At times it felt like a mini G8 summit with so many countries represented saying “what’s the deal with your countries’ _____?” Point being, put your iPhone on airplane mode and go meet the beautiful people of this world. Even in your own backyard. Volunteer, do something you enjoy and meet people with similar passions. Harness your inner six year old and go talk unafraid and unfiltered to people, just like you did on your first trip to the playground.
  • You don’t need “stuff” to be rich – We always get the “you’re so lucky to have that experience, I wish I could do that” from people about our travels. Granted, as a result of hard work we were very fortunate, lucky, and smart enough to save a lot of money over the past six years. However, luck had nothing to do with us quitting our great jobs and planning a very scary and risky trip away from everything comfortable in our life. That was all balls and lady balls (go with it). And to be quite honest, we met a lot of travelers that had very little money with no one to bail them out if they didn’t find the next job. They would work a country and then travel to the next when the funds were there. They weren’t worried about having the “best of the best” of anything relating to material goods, they were worried about life experiences and living a life they deemed their dream at the time. And they were doing it! And now I am sitting in a cube, at what most would consider an amazing job opportunity, surrounded by pictures from our travels searching and wishing I had the same fire and richness in my heart that I did while we were traveling. Invest in memorable moments, in experiences where you can learn something new, hopefully getting paid to do what you love, and then share those experiences. You will be far richer than any person sitting in their giant house in front of their 50” TV, I promise.
  • Live in the moment, hope and plan…a little for the future – We can spend all our days planning for the future, forgetting to live in the beautiful moments of today. Maybe that future comes, maybe it doesn’t; maybe you get hit in the face with one of life’s many curve balls and that future is no longer possible. It is so important to relish in the beauty of today, as far as I’m concerned today is all we have. We’ll plan for the future a bit, it’s necessary, but we’re not banking on it going 100% the way we have it thought out in our head right now. We want to be adaptable, allowing room for new experiences and opportunities to shape and build us, so we can live the best life possible. With no regret. We’re ok with the “oh wells” if an opportunity doesn’t pan out, but no “what ifs”. Be ready to roll with the punches and strong enough to throw your haymakers when the opportunity presents itself!
  • Do what makes your heart beat faster – My beautiful wife, my little dogs, a good concert, engaging conversations, time with friends and family, laughter, an intense hockey game, traveling, the outdoors, etc., etc. these are all things that make my heart beat faster. In the non-cardio, somewhat figurative way of course. Some people will tell you to do what you love or follow your passion, but what exactly does that mean? To me it’s what makes your heart beat faster. It’s what excites me, fills me with joy, a sense of purpose allowing me to create something meaningful. These things provide for amazing memories and allow you to create great things. Do these things, all the time – find a job that makes your heart beat faster, a hobby, an event, a song – that’s living. These memories are where I’ll hang my hat at the end of my days. All I want to do is live a life I’m proud of, one where I let my heart beat as fast as possible, getting as many “lub dubs” in as possible. As a result I plan on having a giant grin on my face when I meet my maker in 25,000 days, knowing I left it all out there.

To Megan and me, those are the lessons we learned as travelers, as open-minded wanderers. That doesn’t mean that you have to travel to have these realizations. We do believe these are lessons not learned in a school, job, book or from a mentor. These are full on life experiences requiring you to step out of your comfort zone, to put yourself out there and try new things. This will enrich your life beyond your wildest dreams. Lessons we slowly realized on the road, but the full gravity of the situations and experiences didn’t smacked us in the face until we got home and the normality of our old ways of life tried to engulf us. We’ll never have that experience again, even if we tried, and we’re ok with that. We lived a dream, and now it’s time to incorporate pieces of it, and its lessons into our everyday life so we can begin to live other dreams.

One Year Post Blog Post 2

The End of the Welsh’s World Tour

On the last day of the Welsh’s World Tour we set off from The Talkhouse and made our way to Oxford to see the school that best resembles one of our favorites, Hogwarts. We walked around and took in the 40 colleges that make up Oxford, it was all very beautiful while at the same time a bit overwhelming, a very busy place. After walking around for a while we realized we weren’t interested in paying money for a two hour tour so we made our way to our hotel to relax. It was the last day of our trip and we were beyond exhausted. We had dinner and spent the night recapping our amazing adventure.

The next day, April 27th, was spent returning our rental car and making our way to Heathrow for our final flight home. After spending 145 hours on planes it was only another 9 and we’d be back in The Land of the Free. It all happened over the span of seven months, and it all flew by so fast. But when we stop and think about all the wonderful experiences and memories made it makes it seem like we were gone for years.

On the plane ride home I remember thinking how this life altering adventure changed me as a person. I knew I had a different outlook on what was important in life after visiting third world countries like Thailand, Nepal and parts of China, living out of a backpack and experiencing that the common man is more inclined to help than to hurt. But being home for three months has allowed us to better understand the impact our travels are having on us as we continually make new decisions, big ones. We have a refreshed approach on how we want to live our lives. We can make big scary decisions because we just spent seven months making all kinds of scary decisions. We sure as hell don’t mind stepping out of our comfort zone, we learned to live outside of it as travelers, it enhances the experience. And lastly, and most importantly, we know what is important to us as a couple and what is necessary for us to continue building a happy life together. It all comes down to knowing what makes you happy and doing it, because life is too damn unpredictable and short to live on the hopes of making the changes someday in the future.

England-49

Two happy kids that just had the experience of a lifetime; from what we saw with our eyes, the history, the cultures and the wonderful people we met along the way it is an adventure we will never forget.

England-50

Two sad kids that just realized they have to get jobs, pay taxes, and become somewhat normal people again…keyword “somewhat”. Don’t get us wrong we are very excited about our next chapter even if it’s still in draft form, but that’s all part of the adventure : )

England: The Cotswolds Continued

After our nice stay in Moreton-in-Marsh we continued our journey through the Cotswolds. We stopped at Stow-on-the-Wold and then continued on to Bourton-on-the-Water, which was absolutely beautiful. It was a small town that had a little creek running right through the middle. We sat and had lunch on the creek and watched the ducks. To our horror we witnessed what we now know as duck gang rape. We saw a group of mallards attacking a female, it honestly looked like they were killing her, It was horrible so Megan Googled it and sure enough male ducks essentially rape female ducks…it was horrible.

We continued on to our last stop for the day to a small pub inn called The Talkhouse just outside of Oxford. That night we sat in the pub playing cards and drinking pints when I noticed an older gentleman sitting alone in the corner. As the night progressed and we had enough of the local ale to put us to sleep we made our way back to our room, but I stopped at the door and decided I wanted to go back and talk to the old man since I can’t stand seeing people alone. After talking with the old man for a bit he asked me where I was from and I told him Chicago, but originally Iowa. He slammed his pint down and looked at me and said his deceased wife was from Waterloo, Iowa…which is the same town my parents are from. I still get goosebumps talking about it. I couldn’t believe it. A small town English bricklayer that’s never left the island, meets an Iowa girl after she bought a house in the Cotswolds, marries her, and we run into him.

England-45

Bourton-on-the-Water England-46 England-47

Cleared a scary gap Tarzan style England-48 England-33

Charming old English homes  England-34 England-35

England: The Cotswolds

First off, the Cotswolds are a combination of small sleepy towns made up of old English cottages and pub inns. On our first night in the Cotswolds we stayed in Chipping Norton. Arriving late we grabbed a quick dinner and had beers in our pub inn. Such a great convenience sleeping out back in rooms behind the bar.England-30

Our Pub Inn in Chipping Norton.

The next day we explored the various little towns within the Cotswolds. We made our way through Chipping Campden and did some exploring. Our next stops were Broadway, Snowshill and after walking around shops and footpaths all day we decided to stop at Moreton-in-Marsh. Exhausted we found a very nice hotel and dropped off our things. We then made our way to find a dinner spot, The Marshmallow, and then set off on a walk around the wonderful countryside. Megan and I were taught from a young age to self-entertain, without having a lot of unnecessary toys we simply made a game out of whatever we had. This still holds true today. One of my favorite memories of our trip will be playing toss-the-bottle PIG, where we tossed and caught our empty bottles and the other person had to replicate the toss and catch. Simple as that. This competitive game went on for about an hour as we walked the countryside.

England-31 England-32 England-36 England-37 England-38 England-39 England-40 England-41 England-42 England-43 England-44

England: Bath

After a great full English breakfast at our B&B and a nice discussion with a woman staying there that worked for the Royal Geographical Society (the British version of Nat Geo, she was a professional nature trail walker and I am convinced she has the best job in the world), we made our way to Bath with a full agenda. Our first stop was the 2,000 year old Roman Bath’s. We took a 2.5 hour tour to see the Bath’s and the natural hot spring that fed the baths, the only one in all of the UK. After the Bath’s, we took a tour of the Bath Abbey, the beautiful old church in town, followed by a nice packed lunch in Victoria Park right by the Royal Crescent, a giant crescent (obvi) shaped building that is mostly privately owned.

After lunch we made our way around the Circus, a circular shaped complex of houses. We then made our way to the Pulteney Bridge, inspired by the Rialto bridge in Venice, Italy, walked around and had some ice cream and a pastry in one of the shops on the bridge. After running around Bath all day we finally settled down in the main square, listened to an old man play his guitar and wrote on our postcards. It was a long day, but we still had to drive to our next destination in Chipping Norton.England-20England-21England-22The giant Roman Baths

England-23

The spot where the hot water rises up from the hot spring (you can see the bubbles)England-24The clock in the Bath Abbey. We climbed to the top of the church.

England-25

England-26

England-29

England-28 England-27

England: Windsor Castle & Stonehenge

We left London to explore the English countryside to see old England! We made our first stop at Windsor Castle to see the Queen, she was home, but busy so we didn’t stay long. Made a quick stop at Eaton College, one of the most prestigious schools in the world and thoroughly enjoyed an Eaton Mess Cupcake from Foxy Cakes on the way out of town.

England-13   Windsor CastleEngland-14 England-15

The next stop was Stonehenge. It was amazing to see something that was built 4,000 years ago, and the audio guide provided a lot of theories around why the stones are there as wells as other facts about the area. Definitely worth exploring, especially with the audio guide that gives loads of information in concise chapters as you walk around.

England-16

England-17

After our tour around Stonehenge we made our way to Saltford just outside of Bath, checked into our adorable little B&B, the White House, and then made our way to the little pub down the street. We got excited because it was trivia night, but to the bartenders advice we sat out. The trivia categories were English literature, radio and celebrities from the area…we answered two of the roughly 30 questions. Thank God the bartender saved us from that public humiliation.

England-18England-19The South View House…I grew up on Southview, crazy coincidence

England: London Town – Round 2

We explored London in June 2012 with Megan’s family so the typical tourist sites were already checked off. With that said we did decide to do the Sandemans FREE tour of London for the historical aspect…plus it’s free, duh (we tip, don’t worry). It was a wonderful tour covering everything from the Duke of Wellington and Henry VIII to Guy Fawkes. After the tour we had lunch in St. James Park and then putzed around London until we met our friend Kendra for some drinks and dinner at a great little spot, The Little Square.England-7

The London pigeon lady!

England-8

The following day was dedicated to markets! First was the giant Portobello Market in Notting Hill. We bought a few old books to add to our collection and for our future little ones we picked up an old school Alice in Wonderland and a Winnie the Pooh book. Once we reached the end of the market we ate our way back down Portobello Road. We ate sausages, some kind of jerk chicken with rice, a crepe with strawberries and Nutella, and a cupcake…wow. A food coma was in full effect, so we made our way to Kensington Gardens for an hour power nap.England-9England-10

England-11

After our nap we wandered through Kensington Gardens and made our way to Monmouth Coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up (said to be the best coffee in London and it was amazing). The store was so small you could only fit about 10 people inside. Megan meanwhile did a little bargain shopping at the boutique next door to wake her up…works every time. After dinner we took a quick tube ride to make the night’s last ride on the London Eye. It was alright, definitely not worth $30 a person. I think London is better seen for free from the ground.

photo(2)

England-12Our last day in London, Sunday April 21, was spent touring near our Shoreditch neighborhood. We ventured through the Flower Market on Columbia Road, The Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane, picking up great souvenirs along the way like my pigeon stickers, some pillow cases and owl salt and pepper shakers! After a long few days running around London we were knackered, so we made our way home to prepare for the last week of our journey.